The first meeting of the Egyptian Higher Committee for Reconstruction was held in Cairo on Tuesday.
SV PAN General Ishmael on right and Dr. Hegazy arrive
SV PAN other delegates arrive
MV map of canal reconstruction
MV delegates seated
SV PAN Dr. Hatem enters and greets Mr. Salem
GV delegates seated
Initials GM/5131 GM/1546
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Background: The first meeting of the Egyptian Higher Committee for Reconstruction was held in Cairo on Tuesday. The Committee, headed by Dr. Mohammed Abdul Kader Hatem who is the country's Deputy Premier for Culture and Information, is responsible for reopening the Suez Canal and rebuilding the war-torn cities beside the waterway.
The Committee will coordinate planning between various government ministries. An operations centre will be set up in very Canal city, with responsibility for restoring normal conditions and supervising local projects.
It is all seen y local observers as part of an economic renaissance in Egypt. Experts claim the Canal could be reopened within a year. But before it can open to shipping for the first time in more than six years, the Suez Canal will have to be dredged, cleared of mines and undergo extensive overhauling. However, with a world-wide fuel shortage, shipping companies will benefit when the Canal is back in operation. As well as the fuel savings, the sailing time from Bombay to London, for example, would be cut by two weeks if the Canal reopens - saving ships from having to make the much longer passage around the Cape of Good Hope.
Several foreign countries have given Egypt financial assistance. Japan, for instance, has made a $280 million (127 million pounds sterling) lean towards the first stage of reopening the Canal, and other Arab nations have given substantial aid to Egypt.